Stoerner to Lucas: The Best game I’ve ever seen even 15 years later

In the victorious Arkansas locker room, Frank Broyles called it “one of the greatest victories in school history.” It was, and still is, the best game I’ve seen in person. I’m betting most Hog fans won’t forget it either.
You know the one. Stoerner to Lucas. Arkansas 28, No. 3 Tennessee 24. Fifteen years ago today.
I was in my second year as as a sportswriter at the Benton County Daily Record, and I covered all the Hogs home games. I was eager to cover this one, after a week of hype.
The season before, in Houston Nutt’s first season as Arkansas’ head coach, the Hogs cruised through the schedule and entered a late-season game with Tennessee with an  8-0 mark. Arkansas led that game 24-21 late with the ball. A couple of first downs, and Arkansas would be 9-0 with national title hopes intact.
However, as many remember and wish they could forget, UA quarterback Clint Stoerner tripped over the late Brandon Burlsworth’s foot and when he landed, the ball it popped out of his grasp.
Tennessee recovered and a few plays later scored and won the game 28-24. The Vols eventually won the national championship.
I watched the game alone in my tiny apartment. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed.
After a year anguish, Stoerner got his shot aclint-stoernert redemption. This time, I had a front-row seat.
Tennessee led much of the second half, but Arkansas took the lead in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard pass from Stoerner to receiver Anthony Lucas.
The media was allowed to head to the field at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, so I, along with then BCDR sports editor Steve Andrews, made my way to the Tennessee sidelines. We settled there because the Arkansas sidelines were crowded.
We saw the Vols march deep into Razorbacks territory with star quarterback Tee Martin leading the charge.
In the end, the Hogs defense held on fourth down on its own 17-yard line, and the offense took over with little time remaining. All Soterner needed to do preserve redemption was receive a couple of snaps cleanly and take a knee.
However, before he could do that, Vols linebacker Raynoch Thompson whispered in his ear during a media timeout, trying to rattle Stoerner.
Moments later, Thompson flew over the line and tried to decapitate the Baytown, Texas native, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penally.
As the game ended, thousands of Hogs fans poured onto he field and eventually tore down the goal posts. Somehow I located Stoerner in the fray, and the relief was written all over his face as he prayed with then-girlfriend Angie Kovalcik. After a year of dealing with the fumble, Stoerner had earned revenge of the No. 3 Vols.
“For a year, he’s lived with jokes and everything else about that game,” Kovalcik told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “It was kind of funny, but it was sad at the same time. Now nobody’s going to mention it.”
The Razorbacks Sports Network produced a quality video tribute of the game with interviews from Stoerner, Lucas, current Hogs quarterback Brandon Allen and Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr, who was a UA graduate assistant during that 1999 season.
I will never forget that game or that bullet of a pass Stoener delivered to Lucas. My only regret is I had to go back to the office and work instead of joining joyous Hog fans, including Stoener’s mother, on Dickson Street where the goal posts had been propped up on the facade of a bar.